Is there a larger mark of a man than he who has learned the truth that discipline, not carelessness, is the way to freedom?
The power that discipline has in improving your life is limitless.
If you can sort yourself out, live a disciplined life and have your reality in order, there is no limit to how great you can become as an individual.
Yet men have been battered by a diet of over-sexualized popcorn pop music, increasingly hard pornography and the whims of the ego feeding their need for instant gratification.
Drugs, women, computer games… everything is at the click of a button now.
We will do anything to escape the sacred, eternal silence.
Yet while our immediate reality is full of noise, lights and action, our deeper lives are becoming increasingly bereft of meaning.
Despite having everything at our fingertips, we never seem satiated.
Depression is out of control.
In our superficial heaven, we have lost our soul.
But do not despair.
Such a loss provides a wonderful opportunity for men who dare seek beyond what their television tells them what to believe.
The death of discipline means one thing: It is time to be reawakened.
This is the central tenet of Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, from which the following three spiritual truths you need to reawaken are sourced.
There is a World Beyond the Material
We have become so convinced of our own power because of the knowledge we have developed of the physical world.
We have traveled to the moon, built machines that can think for themselves and harnessed the power of atomic bombs that could destroy the world itself.
It is understandable for man to kneel beneath the power of his own intellect.
Yet man cannot survive on bread alone.
We are emotional, spiritual and philosophical as well as logical beings.
We ignore this at our peril.
Further so, our insistence on our own intellectual prowess is nothing more than faith for the average man.
We are comfortable assuming that scientists have it worked out, that ‘they’ know what is to be known.
Yet if you look deeper into what scientists are actually saying, we can see the world is really not very physical when broken down to its vital elements.
We now discover the universe is closer to a piece of music more than a physical framework.
Quantum mechanics does not correspond to the same physical laws we do.
“If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics” – Richard Feynman
Foster writes: “Many first-rate scientists have passed beyond such doubts, knowing that we cannot be defined to a space-time box.
“But the average person is influenced by popular science, which is a generation behind the times and is prejudiced against the nonmaterial world.”
This is best exemplified in meditation.
As an ancient spiritual discipline, meditation has long been a way for man to connect with his spiritual/religious tradition.
Yet Foster writes: “Meditation, if allowed at all, is not thought of as an encounter between a person and God, but a psychological manipulation.”
In a plea for mankind’s growth Foster points toward a blueprint for the modern man:
“In intellectual honesty, we should be willing to study and explore the spiritual life with all the rigour and determination we would give to any field of research.”
Dr Jordan Peterson has made a similar point in recent months.
While not demanding spiritual belief, Dr Peterson has called for a reanalyzing of how we perceive religious stories and spiritual meaning.
Such stories, Dr Peterson believes, hold the key not only to our culture, but also to our optimal mode of being.
True Growth Comes From Beyond Human Will
While the naïve adolescent makes gains in his youth, the bridge to manhood is in learning his limitations.
We have all faced this problem as men.
However, the problem in our contemporary age is that now we remain at the bridge to manhood, lampooned by our own ego-based sense of identification.
We have been spoiled with too much, too early in life.
Comfort in computer games has led boys to neglect personal development.
Porn has led boys to shrink from learning the necessary personal, professional and physical abilities to pursue a woman of value.
Pop music drives home a message of vacuous, sexualized non-rhythm, breeding a culture of hysterical emotional outcries and infantile desires for fame and adoration.
This is the result of an ego-identified will running riot.
Ever searching for another fix, another mindless errand to keep its host from realizing the truth: That we may have nothing to say about who we are, what is of real meaning and where we are going in life.
“Willpower,” writes Foster, “has the same deficiency as the law – it can only deal with externals.
“It is incapable of bringing about the necessary transformation of the inner spirit.”
So what must we do as men seeking to grow free from a culture that lures us into the fantasies and emotional tolerance of boys?
We must have spiritual discipline.
We bring ourselves free from the incessant bright lights, shallowness and hysteria of modern culture and focus on our personal development.
We build a solid system of values to take us to a meaning beyond our desires.
Then. We learn patience.
Foster states: “A farmer is helpless to grow grain; all he can do is provide the right conditions for the growing of grain.”
In essence, we pull ourselves together and let life guide us to our destiny.
It is life that got us here, so we must bow to its greater wisdom in our journey.
There is a Path Between Apathy and Righteousness
Meaninglessness is a relatively new phenomenon in human history.
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, men became distanced from nature, as well as from the price that has to be paid to achieve comfort without having to earn it first.
Many boys now come into the world with financial backing before they’ve lifted a finger.
Boys grow up expecting computers and television, just as they expect porn and drugs for free too once they hit adolescence.
The system that has freed us from mass poverty isn’t the issue, our lack of respect for it is.
We have forgotten what it means to earn, and this path breeds apathy.
When we receive things for free we lose the vital element of human psychological satisfaction – working for something and getting your just rewards.
If boys are given everything for free, without having to work, it will breed a sense of purposelessness in life.
What is anything worth if it is easily bought and sold with no human dynamic of work in between?
Why would anything have value in such a state?
When we realize this we are gifted the first step towards The Path, yet Foster gives a stark warning for us to not turn to righteousness.
Just because a man has discovered the superficiality of the world, it does not make him special or ‘real’.
Righteousness destroys humility.
Without humility, man cannot learn and grow.
“We must always remember that the path does not produce the change; it only places us where the change can occur. This is the path of disciplined grace.”
And with that the mission of life falls at your feet:
To say ‘No’ to the shallow, empty and pain-enducing ‘pleasures’ of life.
To say ‘Yes’ to the wisdom that guides you sourced straight from the spirit.
The choice will be made for you if you do not take it today.
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